However, plenty of people around the NBA believe USC’s Onyeka Okongwu will be the best big man in this draft when we look back in a few years. His high energy, defense, and athleticism have teams think he could be a very good fit for the modern game.
Charlotte seems to be thinking the same thing about Okongwu, reports Kevin O’Connor of The Athletic.
The Hornets are likely targeting a big man and are heavily considering Okongwu, according to multiple league sources. Okongwu was arguably the best defensive big man in college basketball last season. Pairing him with P.J. Washington would give Charlotte a skilled frontcourt with versatility on defense and playmaking on offense. There are many NBA front offices that prefer Okongwu to Wiseman; if both are on the board, it’ll be fascinating to see which direction the Hornets go.
It is possible this rumor is just a smokescreen with Charlotte looking for a trade. It is rumored Boston is high on Okongwu and it has three first-round picks plus other players it could trade to move up and get him.
There is a role for Okongwu in the NBA from his rookie year because of his strong defense, with the potential for him to develop into much more. He can do whatever is needed to slow the pick-and-roll — switch, hedge, or drop back — plus he is an impressive shot blocker. He’s a work in progress on the offense but has good handles, soft hands, and is a solid passer. He just needs to work on his shot (but a lot of teams see that as the easiest thing to fix in a prospect willing to work).
For teams not sold Wiseman will reach his ceiling, Okongwu is a strong choice — and those teams may include Charlotte.